Becoming an engineering manager is exciting and rewarding. Leading a team and working on technical projects can be very fulfilling. But for new or aspiring managers, learning the necessary skills can be tricky and full of challenges.
One big challenge is finding the right learning resources. There are many books and materials out there, but it's hard to know which ones are best. It's especially difficult to find easy-to-understand books on engineering management.
There aren't many simple books for new engineering managers. Most books use hard words and only talk about technical stuff or complex leadership ideas without helpful advice. This makes new managers feel lost and stressed, as they can't find good books that connect ideas with real-life use.
Fortunately, there is a book that addresses this gap and provides a refreshing approach to engineering management for newcomers. "Engineering Management for the Rest of Us" by Sarah Drasner is an easy-to-understand and accessible resource that clarifies the engineering management world. Unlike many other books, Drasner's work doesn't overwhelm readers with technical jargon or complex leadership theories. Instead, she offers practical advice and relatable anecdotes that bridge the gap between theory and real-life application. It is a comprehensive guide written by an experienced engineering manager and it demystifies the role of an engineering manager and offers practical advice on effective communication, building relationships, and developing leadership skills.
I have chosen ten key takeaways from my reading of the book. These insights have been incredibly valuable to me, and I hope they will also benefit you. Additionally, I highly recommend purchasing the book, as it is, in my view, one of the finest practical resources on the topic.
Lesson 1: Embrace effective communication. As an engineering manager, it's important to have good communication skills. This helps you connect technical teams with others, share what you expect, give feedback, and set goals together.
Lesson 2: Understand the people dynamics. Being a good manager of engineers isn't just about knowing technology. It's important to understand what they need, what drives them, and what problems they face. You can make a great team by making everyone feel good, helping them work together, and making a place where they can do their best.
Lesson 3: Invest in hiring and retention. Hiring and keeping good engineers is important for a great team. Make plans to find and bring in talent and create a place where they can learn and grow for lasting success.
Lesson 4: Develop leadership skills. Transitioning into an engineering manager role requires honing your leadership abilities. Skills like decision-making, delegation, and coaching are crucial in guiding and inspiring your team towards success.
Lesson 5: Set realistic goals. Work with your team to make easy-to-understand and achievable goals. Make sure the goals match the company's mission, and think about your team's strengths and weaknesses to help everyone feel motivated and focused.
Lesson 6: Manage projects effectively. Learn to manage projects, so they run smoothly and finish successfully. Set deadlines, assign resources, and watch the progress to keep everything on track.
Lesson 7: Foster innovation. Encourage your team to be creative and try new things. Give them chances to experiment, solve problems in new ways, and praise their ideas and efforts. This helps them think differently and be more innovative.
Lesson 8: Develop feedback and evaluation processes. Implementing constructive feedback mechanisms is crucial for the growth and development of your team. Regularly evaluating performance, providing specific feedback, and identifying areas for development will foster a culture of continuous improvement.
Lesson 9: Resolve conflicts promptly. Quickly handle team problems to keep a happy and efficient workplace. Encourage open talking and help solve disagreements to support teamwork and good relationships.
Lesson 10: Stay current with technology. Keep learning and stay updated with new technology. Knowing the latest trends helps you make intelligent choices and lead your team well.
These are the key points I gathered from reading this book. There are many others, and perhaps, for you, there may be even more important lessons than these.
"Engineering Management for the Rest of Us" by Sarah Drasner is a valuable resource for new and aspiring engineering managers. With its accessible language and practical advice, the book empowers readers to develop essential skills such as communication, leadership, and project management. By embracing the lessons shared in this book, engineering managers can successfully navigate the challenges of their role and lead their teams to achieve remarkable results.